Meet the Team

Dr. Sophie Marques

Founder, Managing director, Art director

Department of Mathematical Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Sophie Marques is a researcher and a lecturer in Mathematics at Stellenbosch University. She is Franco-Portuguese married to a South African. She previously worked at University of Padova, in Italy, University of Bordeaux I, in France, Courant Institute, in the USA, UCT, in South Africa. Through her international roots and experience, she had to question constantly and evolve her teaching philosophy. Her love for teaching started at a very young age. She sees research as a form of teaching. As she built her teaching experience, she realized a disconnection between what is taught and day to day life. She hopes that Wisaarkhu can help to break those walls around mathematics making mathematics inaccessible to most. On her free time, she loves spending time with her family. Born in the countryside, she loves animals, nature, and gardening. She always loved art, poetry, music, and photography.

Prof. Ingrid Rewitzky

Editor in Chief

Department of Mathematical Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Ingrid Rewitzky has been involved in educational leadership within and across relatively complex environments through her roles as Professor of Mathematics, Executive Head of the Department of Mathematical Sciences, and Vice-Dean (Learning and Teaching) of the Faculty of Science.

Her personal growth and satisfaction as an academic and educational leader are integrally linked to transcending generational differences and diversity with integrity, fairness, empathy, effective listening, humility, and caring. As a leader she strives to foster a collegial environment (for colleagues and students) promoting inclusivity in which each individual feels respected, trusted, motivated, and valued, all decisions are made fairly and with integrity, and excellence, loyalty and service are acknowledged and rewarded.

She enjoys spending quality time with her family and friends, gardening, crafting, playing golf, and walking with her spaniel, Chanel.

Prof. Zurab Janelidze

Idea Generator, Mathematics Editor

Department of Mathematical Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Zurab Janelidze is a mathematician working in category theory — a field of abstract mathematics that studies unified conceptual principles of different areas of pure mathematics. He is a professor at Stellenboch University and serves on the editorial boards of Applied Categorical Structures and Cahiers de Topologie et Géométrie Différentielle Catégoriques. His hobbies include drawing and classical music improvisation.

Wiida Fourie-Basson

Managing Editor

Media officer and science writer,
Stellenbosch University,
South Africa

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Bethany Robinson

Website Administrator,
Creator, Designer

Department of Mathematical Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Bethany is an Abstract Maths student at Stellenbosch University, but originally from East London in the Eastern Cape. She has always enjoyed Maths, but also always had a passion for any and all creative pursuits – art, music, you name it, she’s probably dabbled in it!

Bethany joined the Wisaarkhu team at the end of 2019 with no experience in website creation (with WordPress, by coding, or otherwise), but with an itch to learn and help. Being the first and only website she’s ever created or run, it has given her many busy days and sleepless nights, but also much satisfaction and growth.

She hopes to one day go into teaching for Mathematics (either high school or university level). She feels teaching is one of the most rewarding ways to serve people with time, knowledge and creativity.

Dr John D. Volmink

Consultant

Chairperson:
Umalusi Council
South Africa

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Dr. Christine Marques

Consultant

Department of Neurobiology, Massachusetts General Hospital, HARVARD UNIVERSITY

After graduating with a degree in biotechnology engineering at Polytech Marseille, Christine Marques completed her PhD in Neuroscience (INSERM U1118) at the University of Strasbourg. During her PhD, Christine deciphered the molecular mechanisms that selectively trigger cortical neurons dysfunction and degeneration during the course of ALS and improved characterization of the cortical pathology in this disease. She developed a protocol that allowed, for the first time, the transcriptomic analyses of pure populations of cortical neurons isolated from the cerebral cortex of adult ALS mice  model at different stages of the disease.

Christine joined the Wainger lab as a postdoc, where she is interested in applying stem cell biology to better understand the cellular and molecular mechanisms of protein spread involved in ALS. Christine received the Milton Safenowitz Postdoctoral Fellowship from the ALS Association in 2019.

Laylaa Motala

Marketing

Engineering Department,
Stellenbosch University,
South Africa

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Michelle Namachemo

Marketing

Engineering Department,
Stellenbosch University,
South Africa

Michelle is a second year civil engineering student aspiring towards an environmental engineering degree. Born in Zimbabwe to Kenyan parents she has always been immersed in multiple cultures and been curious of the world around her.  She is passionate about film and has been around theatre for a large part of her life. Michelle is always looking for answers and has an unshakable love of knowledge in all forms.

Summayah Ajimudin

Marketing

Mathematics and Computer Sciences 3rd year STELLENBOSCH UNIVERSITY

Summayah is an aspiring Mathematician and Computer Scientist. She enjoys building ideas and digitizing them. Her biggest interest is Set Thoery and how it can be used to explain everything. She is currently an undergraduate student at Stellenbosch University majoring in Computer Sciences and Abstract Mathematics. Just a girl from a small farm town with dreams, aspirations and passion.

TSHOGOFATSO BRIGETTE LOPE

Marketing

Undergraduate Chemical Engineering Student, STELLENBOSCH UNIVERSITY

I am very enthusiastic about life, motivated and ambitious. I am a political enthusiast, a philomath and an aspiring philanthropist.

Artists

Nino Mekanarishvili

Head Illustrator, Artist

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Nino was born in Tbilisi, Georgia. From 2007, Nino lives in South Africa. Nino always admired works of fine art. It took her some time before she decided to start creating artwork herself. For the last few years, she has been painting in oils and developing her own style. Nino illustrates for Wisaarkhu from the start of the magazine in 2019.

Cayla Basson

Illustrator, Artist

Visual Communication
Design Student,
Stellenbosch University,
South Africa

Cayla Basson is a designer who works with Wisaarkhu to add a visual twist to their articles.

She believes in ethical design with a spectacular focus on the small details to ensure a successful end product.

Cayla has secured a spot in the top ten best designers amongst her peers. She has also landed one of five spots in the international “IF” poster exhibition, hosted by the Polish-Japanese Academy of Information Technology (PJAIT) and European National Institutes for Culture (EUNIC-Warsaw), to be exhibited in Poland.

Cayla is a third-year Visual Communication Design student from Stellenbosch University. She is working towards her bachelor’s degree and expects to take her education further to ensure the best quality designs her skills have to offer.

Miekie Verster

Illustrator, Artist

Visual Communication
Design Student,
Stellenbosch University,
South Africa

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Liani Malherbe

Illustrator, Artist

Personal Trainer and
Self-taught artist

Liani Malherbe is a Fitness Instructor and freelance creator from Franschhoek.

She believes that everyone needs an outlet, creative or active, in today’s fast moving world.

Liani has her own small business, Evolve Fitness Classes, where she helps people from Franschhoek and Paarl incorporate fitness into their daily lives.

She has always loved working and creating with her hands. She enjoys painting, drawing, printmaking, and baking.

Nandan Malhotra

Illustrator (Memes)

Department of Mathematics
IISER Mohali, India

Nandan is a student of mathematics at IISER Mohali, India, and is currently working on his master’s thesis. He appreciates poetry and art, and believes that memes as a medium of expression can help highlight numerous social issues that exist in the society in a satirical way. He uses memes as a tool to showcase various misconceptions or problems that exist within the world of mathematics, and uses them to connect with a wider audience.

Ethan Quirke

Illustrator (Memes)

Department of Mathematics & Computer Science,
Stellenbosch, South Africa

Ethan Quirke is currently studying Abstract Mathematics and Computer Science. He originally was doing only Computer science, but took Maths along with it as a possibility as he had some skill in it and enjoyed it, but he didn’t really see the value in it.  At the end of his second year, he took a module Linear Algebra, and this was unknowingly his first encounter with real Abstract Mathematics. It resonated with him quite a bit! After some researching he then decided to change his course to Mathematics with Computer Science. His interest in Mathematics continually grows and he is very interested in the possibility of pursuing it further. He also have a keen interest in Psychology, which is quite stimulated by him being a bit more of an intuitive-feeling type of person, and so he is very interested in how these two fields come together! As hobbies, he enjoys skating, music, non-stop talking with friends and anything to do with animals!

Lourens Van Niekerk

Poet

Department of Mathematics Honours Student,
Stellenbosch, South Africa

Lourens is a passionate mathematical hippy who currently lives on his family farm near Kimberley with their pet dogs, springbok, warthog and lamb. He currently pursues his Honours in Mathematics at Stellenbosch University and is the 2020 chairperson of SUMS (Stellenbosch University Mathematics Society). His poetry serves as a means to balance his mathematical career with linguistic art.

HOSANA RANAIVO

Poet

PhD Student in Mathematics, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Hosana is soft-spoken yet candid female poet, who draws inspiration from her background in rural Madagascar where she seeks to uplift and inspire other young children to fight the scourge of poverty that bedevils society. She is also a PhD candidate University of Stellenbosch in the department of Mathematics. There she continues to engage with other young people on various pertinent themes during various activities such as choir, hiking and poetry sessions.

Lorrd H. Lena

Illustrator

Consultant/ Teacher of Shiv Shankar Public School, Ludhiana, PUNJAB
Affiliated with B.S Foundation and Shankar Colony Foundation

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Aishwarya Viswamitra

Poet

3rd year BS-MS student at IISER Mohali, India

Aishwarya Viswamitra is a poet, journalist and English teacher. She is passionate about science communication, whether it be through well-researched articles or a spoken word poem. Along with pursuing sci comm via social media management and journalism, she is completing her masters degree in Biology at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Mohali.

In her free time, Aishwarya can be found giving people existential crises on her Instagram page @_.twoinabillion or nursing a runny nose (she’s allergic to cats and has one). A passionate foodie with a distaste for cooking, she will never be found in the kitchen unless she’s seated at the dining table.

Her goal is to continue to share people’s journeys through her writings while figuring out her own, one article at a time.

Editors

Cecilia Hernandez

Associate Editor

BA of Mathematics,
New York University,
USA

Cecilia Hernandez is a Finance professional in the healthcare industry where she provides insights through data analytics to bring clarity to the financial decisions of institutions.

Outside of her full-time role, Cecilia is an entrepreneur who focuses on supporting women of color business owners with their finances, operations, and data analytics needs. Her mission is to empower these small business owners through educating them on the financial health of their company as well as provide financial insights that will help them plan and strategize for their future. Important to Cecilia in her business model is decreasing the stress and mental anguish that can come with managing one’s business finances.

Her goal is to make financial prowess a therapeutic process for her clients.

In her free time, Cecilia can be found testing the boundaries of her palette through trying new foods and cuisines. She loves learning the background of dishes to explore different cultures through food. Cecilia is also an avid reader and you can find her nose-deep in the next must-read mental wellness book, personal finance book, or poetry series.

Cecilia is a proud graduate of New York University where she majored in Mathematics. She’s also a Bronx native who’s New York roots speak to her unending grind and quest to always grow.

Sarah Selkirk

Associate Editor

Department of
Mathematical Sciences,
University of Klagenfurt,
Austria

Sarah Selkirk is a doctoral student in combinatorics and a contract lecturer at Alpen-Adria-Universität in Klagenfurt, Austria. Originally from South Africa, she is passionate about supporting and encouraging women in mathematics, and is a co-organiser of the African Women in Mathematics Seminar.

Dr. Rizwana Roomaney

Associate Editor

Department of Psychology,
Stellenbosch University,
South Africa

Dr Roomaney conducts most of her research in the field of health psychology. She is interested in the psychological, behavioural and social aspects of illness, health and healthcare. While her research is mostly centred on women’s health, she is open to collaborating on a wide range of topics within the field, and not exclusively in women’s health. Dr Roomaney is currently working with several students conducting research among patients with breast cancer, gynaecological cancers, endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome. She has a growing interest in how patient populations use online spaces in relation to their health behaviours and health cyber psychology. Dr Roomaney is the national delegate for South Africa at the European Health Psychology Society and is leading the development of a Health Psychology Special Interest Group in the Psychological Society of South Africa.

Shaun Hudson-Bennett

Associate Editor

Mathematics Department,
Somerset College,
South Africa

Shaun Hudson-Bennett is a high school Mathematics teacher in Somerset West. He believes that everybody is capable of achieving at Mathematics and works to challenge the myth that some are destined to fail. Mathematics is an instrument that anyone can use with the right amount of self-belief and perseverance to teach us about what we are truly capable of. The harder we work means the greater the rewards and Shaun works to equip his students with the right skills and temperament in order to work through solving challenging problems. He loves mountain biking, doing anything at the beach, a good braai with good people, reading books (the old-fashioned ones with paper) and diverse opinions.

Mariam Salie

Interviewer

Department of Psychology,
Stellenbosch University,
South Africa

Mariam Salie is a registered Clinical Psychologist and lecturer in the department of Psychology at SU. Mariam’s clinical training includes providing psychological services at Welgevallen Community Psychology Clinic and Kylemore Clinic during Masters training, 2 Military Hospital during internship and she completed her community service at the Department of Correctional Services, Pollsmoor Management area. In light of these experiences, Mariam has an interest in culturally competent mental health services in South Africa. Her focus is on teaching and clinical training in Psychology. She has been involved in promoting mental health awareness in the community in collaboration with community organisations and through community publications.

Dr. Karin-Theresa Howell

Department of Mathematical Sciences, Stellenbosch University, South Africa

Karin-Therese Howell is a mathematician who works in abstract algebra and graph theory. She is a Senior Lecturer at Stellenbosch University. She is the convenor of the African Women in Mathematics Conferences and Seminars (AWiM) and is passionate about supporting women in mathematics and encouraging more female learners to consider studying mathematical sciences. In her free time she likes to kitesurf and paint.

Dr. Leandro Boonzaaier

Department of Physics,
Stellenbosch University,
South Africa

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Dr. Ronalda Benjamin

Department of Mathematical Sciences,
Stellenbosch University,
South Africa

Ronalda Benjamin is a researcher and lecturer at Stellenbosch University and work in the general area of Functional Analysis, a branch of pure mathematics.

As a learner she very much enjoyed mathematics, but growing up surrounded by drugs, gang violence and young people whose lives lacked direction, she was always hesitant to voice this passion of hers and her dream of becoming a mathematician.  Ronalda argued that a rise in positive role models in her neighbourhood would motivate young people to pursue their dreams. She then decided to “be the change she wants to see”.

Ronalda is very passionate about mentoring young people from disadvantaged communities – she would like to see more people beat the odds stacked against them.  

In her free time, Ronalda can be found watching a good movie or some matches played by Brazil’s women’s volleyball team – I may just be their biggest fan.

Dr. Neeraja Sahasrabudhe

Department of Mathematics
IISER Mohali,
India

Neeraja Sahasrabudhe is a faculty at the department of mathematics at Indian Institute of Science Education and Research. Her research focuses on Probability theory and its applications. Neeraja enjoys the teaching aspect of the job as much as the research. She likes to interact with students on various topics beyond the classroom and is interested in understanding the interplay between structures of higher education and society.

She also has a keen interest in the gender question in academia. Neeraja believes that it is crucial to evolve an understanding of the historical and socio-political context of knowledge within universities and its relation with marginalised groups, including women.

Acutely aware of the eliteness and exclusiveness of higher academia, Neeraja is interested in engaging with people, groups and spaces that challenge this hegemony.

In her free time, other than surfing the internet aimlessly, she loves reading fiction and poetry. Neeraja is also a cinephile and likes to watch films from all over the world and sometimes write about it as well. She finds peace in old songs, tiramisu and tea.

Dr. Jonathan Shock

Department of Mathematical Sciences, UCT,
South Africa

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Dr. Claire Blackman

Department of Mathematical Sciences, UCT,
South Africa

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Karin Brand

Psychologist in private practice
Hermanus,
South Africa

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Su Nightingale

Head of Department of English, Somerset College Senior School
South Africa

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JP le Roux

Head of the Mathematics Department at Cedar House School
South Africa

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Anita Campbell

Academic Development Lecturer,
UCT,
South Africa

Anita Campbell has been enthusiastically teaching and learning from students of first-year mathematics for over two decades. Since 2011 she has been based in the Academic Support Programme for Engineering at the University of Cape Town. Intrigue about why some engineering students fail to rebound after failing first-semester mathematics led to her PhD investigation of growth mindsets – the belief that intelligence can always be improved. Her PhD thesis showed that interventions to develop growth mindsets should focus on mindset messages in learning environments and not just target individuals. She is excited about applying findings from the field of positive psychology to enhance student wellbeing and success. Other research interests include educational technology to support active learning, and engineering students’ sense of belongingness.

Apart from helping students, her favourite things include hiking and running with her husband and twin daughters, eating avocado and basil pesto, and reading books like The Book of Joy.

Anita is a member of the International Positive Psychology Association, the South African Society for Engineering Education, and the Association for Mathematics Education of South Africa, and the Centre for Research in Engineering Education.